(b Vienna, 5 June 1913; d Mödling, 7 Nov 1965). Austrian clarinettist, composer and writer on music. The son of well-known author and Vienna Burgtheater director, Anton Wildgans, his early violin and piano instruction was followed, at the age of 12, by theory and composition lessons with Joseph Marx. After further instrumental study, Wildgans taught the clarinet, chamber music and theory at the Salzburg Mozarteum (1934–6). From 1936 until his arrest by the Nazis in 1939, he played the clarinet in the Staatsoper orchestra and served as coach at the Burgtheater. After the war, he was appointed artistic director and head of the theory and performance departments of the Vienna Musikhochschule (1945–7), music advisor to the city of Vienna (1947–51) and president of the Austrian section of ISCM. In 1950 he accepted a post at the Vienna Music Academy, which he held until his death.
Wildgan’s compositional approach was grounded in the styles of Hindemith and Stravinsky. He adopted the melodic subtlety, polyphonic technique and transparent textures associated with these composers, as well as exploring polytonal, atonal and serial structures. Among his compositions are expressive works of great difficulty and easier pieces for solo instruments and small ensembles. His writings include numerous articles in the Österreichische Musikzeitschrift and a book, Anton Webern (London, 1966/R). An important figure in post-war Austria, his international reputation grew out of his performances as a clarinettist, rather than out of his work as a composer.
Der Baum der Erkenntnis (op, F.T. Csokor), 1932, unfinished; Der Diktator (operetta, G. Herrmann), 1933, lost; incid music for theatre, film and radio
Choral: Proprium für den Gründonnerstag, 1929, rev. 1945; Volkslieder und Sprüche (J.W. von Goethe, D. von Aist), 1929, rev. 1941; Die Übung der göttlichen Tugenden, lost; Wahlspruch für J. Bacak ‘Wer mich nicht unterkriegt, der macht mich stärker’, vv, 1941, unpubd; 3 Lieder (A. a Sancta Clara), 1944; Der mystische Trompeter (W. Whitman), vv, tpt, pf, 1946; Eucharistische Hymnen, S, Bar, chorus, 12 brass, 3 pf, perc, 1947–52; Eine Singweise (U. von Liechtenstein), 1951; 3 kleine geistliche Motetten, 1951–3; Sonette an Ead, vv, ob, cl, lost; Missa festiva, SATB, vv, org, brass, perc, lost
Solo: Lieder (A. Wildgans), 1v, pf, lost; An den Knaben Elis (G. Trakl), S, cl, vn, vc, 1928–9, rev. 1960; 3 Klavierlieder (Trakl, C. Flaischlen, A. Petzold), 1930–55; 3 kontrapunktische Lieder (G. Herrmann), 1v, pf, 1932; Missa minima, S, cl, vn, vc, 1932, rev. 1953–4; Rhénane d’automne (G. Apollinaire), S, cl, pf, 1953–4
MSS in A-Wn
Principal publishers: Doblinger, Universal, Hofmeister-Figaro, Haslinger
L.Brauneiss: Friedrich Wildgans (diss., U. of Vienna, 1988)
GEROLD W. GRUBER
(b Warsaw, 17 April 1910; d Tel-Aviv, 2 Jan 1997). Israeli composer of Polish birth. Through the Zionist youth movement Ha-shomer ha-sa‘ir he met Isaac Adel, who founded and conducted a youth choir that sang Hebrew songs. Adel had a huge influence upon Wilensky, directing him towards study in composition and conducting at the Warsaw State Conservatory. On the completion of his studies in 1932, Wilensky emigrated to Palestine. Working as a pianist in the Mandate (Broom) Theatre, he became acquainted with the Yemeni singer Esther Gamlilit. He wrote a few songs for her in a typical Yemeni style. He also composed music for the documentary film company Carmel. In 1944 he was appointed in-house composer of the Li-la-lo theatre company. There he met the singer Shoshana Damari, who subsequently became the distinguished performer of his songs. During the Independence War, Wilensky and Damari toured and entertained troops; after the war in 1949 they toured the USA. From the 1950s onwards, he composed hundreds of songs, some of them for army bands, and musicals such as Shulamit (1957), Fishke and Sameah ba-namal (‘Fun in the Harbour’).
Wilensky's were the first Israeli songs to win international recognition in popular music competitions. Both Stav (‘Autumn’) and Laylah ve-ashan (‘Night and Smoke’) took second prize in the International Pop Festival in Poland (1962, 1963). Published and recorded by the hundreds, his songs also appeared in the following collections: Tamid kalaniyot tifrahna (‘The Poppies will always Blossom’, 1978); Al ha-kvish yareah (‘A Moon on the Road’, 1982) and Moshe Wilensky zer kalaniyot (‘Wilensky's Poppy Garland’, 1990). A founder of ACUM (the Israeli society of composers and authors) in 1936, Wilensky served as the director of light music for the Kol Yisrael radio station for many years (from 1961). He received the Israel Award in 1983.